LeSean McCoy and the Eagles battle the Cowboys for first place in the NFC East
The Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles will get together on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on FOX with first place in the NFC East on the line. While their records may be a bit disappointing, the Cowboys and Eagles sit atop their division at 3-3. With the rest of the division struggling mightily, both teams have a huge opportunity to gain a major leg up in the division race. Thus far, the Eagles appear much improved under Chip Kelly as their offense is one of the league's best. They rank second in the NFL in net yards per attempt and first in yards per carry. On the other side, the Cowboys are getting a career year from Tony Romo and Dez Bryant continues to emerge as one of the NFL's most dangerous weapons.
3 Things to Watch
Cowboys Weapons vs. Eagles Secondary
Romo is having perhaps his best season of his career, completing 70.2 percent of his passes for 1,693 yards, 14 touchdowns and just three interceptions. His 108.6 quarterback rating ranks third in the NFL behind only Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers. The Cowboys offense ranks second in the league in points per game (30.5), 11th in passing yards per game (265.0) and 14th in total yards per game (349.8). The Eagles secondary, which ranks 31st in the league in passing yards allowed per game (314.5), will struggle. Cary Williams, Brandon Boykin and Bradley Fletcher haven't been consistent this year, while their safeties are a question mark after Patrick Chung re-injured his shoulder last week. Nate Allen and Earl Wolff will likely start. The combination of Dez Bryant, Jason Witten and Terrance Williams should tear up the Eagles. Bryant ranks 14th in the league in receiving yards, with 459, but is tied for third in touchdowns, with six.
No Michael Vick
Many feared that Chip Kelly's offensive system wouldn't work without the versatile Vick. After injuring his hamstring two weeks ago against the Giants, Nick Foles took over and so far, he has shined. Foles was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week after completing 22 of 31 passes for 296 yards and three touchdowns, plus rushing for a score in Philadelphia's 31-20 victory at Tampa Bay last Sunday. That followed the second-year quarterback's strong second-half performance after Vick got hurt in Week 5 against the Giants. Foles has done a great job of spreading the ball around, hitting eight different receivers last week. DeSean Jackson has seen a reemergence this year as he is second in the NFL in receiving yards with 589 and has five touchdowns. Since assuming the starting job, Foles has compiled a 127.9 passer rating, while Vick's sits at 90.6. A win over division foe Dallas could signal the start of Foles supplanting Vick as the Eagles' quarterback.
LeSean McCoy versus Dallas front seven
McCoy has already made some defenders look absolutely ridiculous this year with his juking abilities. McCoy leads the NFL in rushing thus far, with 630 yards at a 5.1 yard per carry clip. Dallas gave up 216 yards rushing against the Redskins last week. The Cowboys’ defensive line is extremely thin heading into this contest. Jay Ratliff was just cut, while DeMarcus Ware is likely out with a quadriceps strain. Jason Hatcher and George Selvie have been limited in practice all week and, if they play, will not be at 100 percent. The Eagles will look to exploit a Dallas defense that gives up 4.4 rushing yards per attempt, which ranks them 25th in the league in that category.
Key Players for Philadelphia: Brandon Graham and Trent Cole, DEs
The only way the Eagles are going to stop an onslaught from Tony Romo is if these guys can get to him. Connor Barwin does have three sacks on the season, but the Eagles need another pass rusher to emerge.
Key Player for Dallas: Dez Bryant, WR
Running back DeMarco Murray suffered a sprained MCL Sunday night against Washington and is unlikely to play against the Eagles. His absence hurts a Cowboys rushing attack that already ranks 25th in the NFL at just 84.8 yards per game. Dallas will turn to rookie Joseph Randle, who had 11 carries for 17 yards against the Redskins, and third-year pro Phillip Tanner against a solid Philadelphia run defense. The same can't be said for the Eagles' pass defense, however. The Cowboys' No. 1 wide receiver leads the team in targets (54), catches (34), yards (459) and touchdowns (six). He is averaging 13.5 yards per reception and has 188 yards after the catch (YAC). Bryant has produced all season and Philadelphia has struggled to stop the pass. Sounds like a recipe for success for the Cowboys, provided Bryant does his part.
The Eagles need to run the ball to win this game, while the Cowboys will certainly be passing. Philadelphia's tempo won't play to a strategy of keeping the opposing offense off the field, so Dallas will have its chances. I don't expect there to be much defense in this game; however, the Cowboys' have a stronger unit. I think an interception by Nick Foles will swing the momentum in this game.
Dallas 34, Philadelphia 24